The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) does not require that employees who are employed in agriculture receive the federal overtime payment of time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked more than 40 hours per week. However, states are free to enact their own regulations that mandate overtime requirements for agricultural workers. So far six states have taken that step and implemented their own requirements. The majority of the states mandating overtime for farmworkers are doing so on a schedule to build up to the final hours’ requirement.
For example, California started to phase in an overtime requirement for agricultural workers in 2019. In 2019, California required that people employed in an agricultural occupation could not be employed more than nine and one-half hours or work more than 55 hours in a workweek without receiving overtime compensation. In 2020, the hours in a day decreased to 9, and the hours in a week were reduced to 50 for overtime compensation. Each year the hours decrease until the final overtime requirements are in place. As of January 1, 2022, in California, it is required that any agricultural employee working more than 8 hours a day or more than 40 hours a week receive overtime compensation. Additionally, like several other states, California has a slightly different schedule for small employers (25 or fewer employees), giving them more time to implement these changes.
Most recently, the New York Farm Laborers Wage Board voted to decrease the overtime threshold for agricultural workers from 60 to 40 hours. This change will be phased-in over a ten-year period, reducing by four hours on a biannual basis. Oregon is also in the process of passing a bill into law that would also require agricultural workers to receive overtime. House Bill 4002 passed both the Oregon House and Senate in early March of 2022 and is awaiting the governor’s signature. This would make Oregon the seventh state to require agricultural workers to receive overtime compensation.